Last year's turnout — the highest for a midterm election in a century — was boosted by bursts of new voters from virtually every demographic group, the Census Bureau reports.
Overall turnout was a shade above 53 percent of eligible voters, a whopping 16 percentage points higher than in the previous midterm, halfway through President Obama's second term. (That 37 percent turnout of 2014 was the lowest for a midterm since World War II.)
Notably, 36 percent of the youngest eligible voters, those 18 to 29, cast ballots last year — up 16 points from four years earlier. But still, young people as a share of the electorate edged up just a couple of points, to 7 percent, because other cohorts were also on the rise. The elderly, who constitute nearly one-quarter of the electorate, vote at a fundamentally higher rate: Last year 66 percent of people older than 65 went to the polls, a 7-point uptick.
Highlights of the turnout increases for other sectors of the population:
49 percent of people 30 to 44, up 13 points from 2014
58 percent of whites, up 12 points to the highest level for a midterm in four decades
51 percent of blacks, up 10 points
41 percent of Asians, up 14 points
40 percent of Hispanics, up 13 points
74 percent of citizens with postgraduate degrees, up 12 points
59 percent of people with a bachelor's degree or some college, up 13 points
42 percent of high school graduates, up 8 points
27 percent of those without a high school diploma, up 5 points
The data, released Tuesday, was from a special survey the Census Bureau conducts nationwide after each federal election. The Washington Post has more numbers and good graphics of the historic trends.
With President Trump on the ballot, the boost he provided to midterm turnout (which energized both the GOP and Democratic bases, although the latter a bit more) should continue if not be magnified in 2020. Changes to election laws, making it easier to register and vote in several states, also seem sure to enhance turnout next time.
News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.
Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.
RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.
Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?
To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."
The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.
The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.
Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.
While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."